business principles

Aug 8, 2016

Work Performance and the Perils of Comparison

Let me take you back in time.  You’re in 8th grade.  You’ve signed up for your first guitar lesson and the teacher plays Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven.”   She offers it up as an example of a great song that you can learn to play.  You’re motivated to learn, right?  Wrong!  She no sooner finishes her sentence about “you can learn how to play,” when you hear Jimmy Page rips into his classic solo and you decide then and there that it’s time to take up sports – “because there ain’t no way you’re going to be able to do what Jimmy’s doing in that song!”  You leave the lesson discouraged.

I share this because there is new evidence uncovered by researchers Avi Feller and Todd Rogers that suggests “that exposure to exemplary peer performances can undermine motivation and success by causing people to perceive that they cannot attain their peers’ high levels of performance.”  This finding has some huge implications for businesses – especially as it pertains to individual and team performance in the workplace.

But, managers, don’t despair!  You and you’re team are not doomed to a work life of less than stellar achievement.  There are some things that you can do to avoid falling into this trap.  Here are 5 suggestions:

1.      Show that you’re into it!  Passion and enthusiasm are contagious.  If you demonstrate that you’re into the work at hand, your team can’t help but follow.

2.      Set goals that can be attained.  Don’t set the Led Zeppelin as the goal.  Rather, choose goals that can be achieved.  The team will hang in there and work to get better, if they can gain a sense of accomplishment as they work.

3.      Stop comparing your team to others.  As the research suggests, there are other ways to motivate.  Challenge the team to work towards improving their performance every day, every week and every month – Jimmy Page wasn’t born a virtuoso.  He grew his talent over time through practice and dedication.

4.      Provide air cover.  If you have someone else to answer to, as most managers do, you may not be able to control how you and your team are measured from above.  So, it’s essential that you have your teams back as they progress.  By providing some air cover you’ll give your team the chance to mature and evolve into meeting and exceeding all expectations.

5.      Make it about the journey and not about the destination.  It’s OK to have some fun at work.  Make performance achievement about the “this is how we get better” and, not about the consequences of not meeting goals.

To close, comparison can be a perilous path to take when working to motivate.  Like the guitar teacher, you can intimidate those that you’re trying to inspire.  Instead of falling into the comparison trap, try some of these tips and you just might lead your team to outstanding performance.

NOTE: This piece, Work Performance and the Perils of Comparison,  was originally published in Inc. on July 18, 2016.

Fav website today: TrikeJournal.com

Mar 4, 2016

On Leadership: 10 Principles That Make Leading Easier

Here are 10 ideas that today’s busy leaders can embrace to enhance their ability to set direction and manage change.

How did you come up with 10 Principles That Make Leading Easier?  I have dedicated my career to working with senior leadership teams and helping them to devise the strategies, organizational designs and operating models needed to better set direction and manage change. From all of this work, regardless of industry, staff size or revenue, these 10 leadership principles have proven to be the common denominators that can separate winning organizations from the “also ran’s” with whom they compete:

  1. The best leaders lead and let others manage: There’s a difference between leadership and management. Leaders look forward and imagine the possibilities that the future may bring in order to set direction. Managers monitor and adjust today’s work, regularly looking backward to ensure that current goals and objectives are being met. The best leaders lead and let their management teams manage the work at hand.
  2. The best leaders inspire: Once the direction is set, the best leaders socialize their visions for tomorrow and work to inspire their colleagues to work with them to achieve it. This is done by both words and action–inspiring confidence and commitment among the people of whom they are entrusted to lead.
  3. The best leaders promote “In it together” as way of life: They understand that us versus them” can be a powerful motivator. The best leaders leverage this by promoting the concept that they and their staff members are “all in it together” in defeating the competition and delighting our customers.
  4. The best leaders never work alone: Instead, camaraderie and trust is purposely forged by working with others on their management team to drive change and deliver outcomes. Stated another way, they’re not above getting their hands dirty to get the job done.
  5. The best leaders build and leverage leaders from within: Regardless of reporting lines,the best leaders are constantly in search of other leaders from within their organizations to develop and cultivate. They want to establish network of that they can collaborate with and engage in active direction-setting.
  6. The best leaders tackle the “tough” stuff: They’re not afraid to address the least pleasant aspects of setting direction and managing change. They inherently understand that there is a possibility that not everyone is prepared to make the journey to wherever they are leading, and consequently, they are willing to address the implications that come with that reality–whatever they may be.
  7. The best leaders take educated risks: Risk-taking is an often overlooked part of leading. But, with it comes immense responsibility. Take the wrong risks and it could mean lost jobs and livelihoods. So, “educated” risk-taking (ones based on experiences and training) becomes an art form among the best leaders among us.
  8. The best leaders enable success: They knock-down roadblocks and empower people to do whatever it takes to deliver results–paving the way for success and accomplishment among the people of whom they lead.
  9. The best leaders shift their cultures from ones of Entitlement to ones of Mutual Accountability: The “buck stops here” for among the best leaders. They are accountable and expect the same among their people. Gone are the days where seniority and title are rewarded. Rather, a commitment to upholding commitments is what the best leaders seek in their team members.
  10. The best leaders reward success, not effort: Working diligently without achievement is worth little when compared to any level of effort that yields demonstrative results. Thus, the best leaders pursue and reward results–paying little attention to effort or aspiration.

To close, it is my hope that you use this checklist, referring to it often over time, as you go about your personal leadership journey. It can serve to ensure you that you’re doing all that you can to be the kind of leader that inspires the best effort in your people, while driving the desired results that consistently keeps your organization in the winner’s circle.

This piece was originally published in inc.com on August 3, 2015.

NOTE: Current Fav Website: TrikeJournal.com

Jun 1, 2015

The Business Case for Building a Cross-Cultural Workforce

This popular article is on Diversity & Inclusion in the workplace:

The Business Case for Building a Cross-Cultural Workforcefaces

Be sure to share and share alike!

Thanks.

Feb 22, 2015

How to Optimize Your Accounting Strategy

In these challenging economic times, it is wise to reexamine even the most of the mundane activities performed in your business to identify opportunities for improvement.accounta

How to Optimize Your Accounting Strategy

Out earlier this week in my Inc. Magazine column.

Read it and share…You just may someone!

Jan 20, 2015

12 differences between winning and losing leadership

Read and Share My Latest Management-Issues Online Magazine Article:chess2

12 differences between winning and losing leadership

Enjoy it!
Dec 1, 2014

City of the Future Series Starts Today on Inc.

Let us promote and engage in a discussion about where we are heading as a society. This is the first of an 8-part series exploring the subject. city

City of the Future Series Starts Today on Inc.

Please be sure to follow it.  The series runs with a new article Monday through Friday, this week and next.

As always, your comments, likes and follows make me feel good!

So, please keep them coming….

Nov 15, 2014

New Book Trailer Up on YouTube

Please checkout my latest video on The Executive Checklist: youtube

New Book Trailer Up on YouTube

Share it so that everyone gets the chance to read the book!

Thanks!

Oct 17, 2014

Partner In Success Radio Interview

Listen to my Partner In Success Radio Interview – With host Denise Griffitts.

We talk about the book, cover some of the interesting case studies in it and describe some of the challenges that lie ahead for businesses today.

Check it out here

And, as always, pass it around.  Thanks!

Oct 4, 2014

How appealing to women has helped The Home Depot

My latest article in Management-Issues focuses on branding and marketing strategy.  women

It is about:

How appealing to women has helped The Home Depot

Please check it out and pass it on…The best business minds always share great content.

Peace Out!

 

Sep 29, 2014

Forbes on The Executive Checklist

Forbes contributor Roger Trapp provided a terrific review of the book.

“To be successful in this extremely complex and unstable business environment, executive leaders must do all that they can to simplify. Therefore, checklists are in order,” he asserts.forbes

Check it out here:

Forbes on The Executive Checklist

If you like it, please pass it on!

 

 

 

 

Copyright 2019 James M. Kerr       info@executive‑checklist.com       800‑944‑4662